Forensic Identification of GSM Mobile Phones

The 1st ACM Workshop on Information Hiding and Multimedia Security


Researchers of the EXIST startup team Digital Evidence at TU Dresden and the dence GmbH have developed a forensic technique to identify mobile phones in GSM networks. Computer scientist Jakob Hasse (26) has been working on this topic since his master thesis at TU Dresden: “The novel approach also permits re-identification of mobile phones across interchangeable SIM cards, and it is not vulnerable to manipulated identification (IMEI) numbers.” The core of the method exploits signal characteristics and transmission profiles of mobile phones. Subtle technical differences allow to determine specific “fingerprints” that can be used to assign transmitted signals to end-user devices.

Forensic mobile phone identification has applications in speaker verification, tracking of (stolen) devices, and law enforcement in general. While existing active identification techniques require support by the service provider or operating a base station to set up so-called IMSI catchers, the new passive method relies solely on the observation of transmitted signals. Future applications beyond mobile phone identification may also include the detection of fake base stations.

Jakob Hasse will present the research work next week at the ACM Workshop on Information Hiding and Multimedia Security (June 17-19, 2013) in Montpellier, France. Details can be found in the accompanying paper:

J. Hasse, T. Gloe und M. BeckForensic Identification of GSM Mobile Phones,  in Proceedings of the 1st ACM Workshop on Information Hiding and Multimedia Security2013to appear. [pdf]